Applying for HSS F-REC Approval
Paths to appropriate research ethics approval within DCU vary according to the level, risk, and types of proposed research. The following provides an overview to help you in directing your application for approval of a research project from the Humanities & Social Sciences Faculty Research Ethics Committee:
Undergraduate (UG) and taught Masters-level (PGT) projects are reviewed and approved at local level, by the relevant School Ethics Convenor. Students should seek information on the associated procedures and deadlines from their supervisor(s) or programme chair. Supervisors and other staff involved in the approval of UG/PGT projects should be familiar with the School’s process and should contact their local Ethics Convenor for assistance.
All other HSS low-risk research projects may be reviewed and approved by the F-REC, using the application template and portal below.
Faculty postgraduate research (PGR) projects - i.e. Doctoral research and Masters-by-research thesis projects - should use this template and portal, but note that the application must be completed in conjunction with the research supervisor(s), who reviews and signs the application prior to submission. Supervisors should confirm that the research is low-risk if applying to F-REC.
All higher-risk research projects must be reviewed by the University-level REC, following their procedures and forms. Proceed here: REC Applying for Ethics Approval
Applications to F-REC for approval can only be made where your proposed project is low-risk. Research outside this remit must be reviewed and approved by the University REC.
Low-risk research is any research that would or could submit participants in the project to a level of risk no greater than would be encountered in everyday life, where there are no vulnerable participants, and where Personal Data gathered in the project is not of a highly sensitive nature, or belonging to the special categories of protected data under GDPR (Art. 9.1).
If you are uncertain about the level of risk in your project, it is advisable to review the resources provided on this information hub, and on the University REC page, and to contact the Data Protection Unit with queries related to GDPR or data security and protection.
In addition to the best practices for collecting, storing, and protecting any data in your research design, you are also subject to legal requirements under the GDPR for the handling of Personal Data.
Personal Data is any information that relates to a living individual who can be directly or indirectly identified.
DCU provides a range of resources and supports for researchers on data protection and GDPR. You must review and assess your proposed research using this guide, as part of an Application to F-REC. You can also find relevant information from University REC, under “Personal Data and the Research Ethics Process”, and should consult with DCU’s Data Protection Unit for necessary advice.
Applying to F-REC for ethics approval
Ensure that you are completing the correct application template and procedure, by checking that ALL the following requirements for an approval by F-REC apply:
- My proposed research involves a staff, doctoral, or masters-by-research project
- My proposed research is within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at DCU.
- My proposed research does not involve vulnerable participants (e.g. minors).
- My proposed research is low-risk.
If any of these requirements are not met, you should refer to the university-level REC for approval of your proposed project.
Deadlines for Application
The F-REC commences in September of each academic and meets several times during the year, providing decisions on submitted applications shortly after each meeting. The schedule of meetings is provided below.
Deadlines for submission of an application for review at a particular meeting are at 5pm on the first working day of the month in which the meeting is held.
|Application Deadline||F-REC Decision Meeting|
|01 September 2023||21 September 2023|
|02 October 2023||19 October 2023|
|01 November 2023||16 November 2023|
|01 December 2023||14 December 2023|
|01 February 2024||15 February 2024|
|02 April 2024||18 April 2024|
|01 May 2024||16 May 2024|
|04 June 2024||20 June 2024|
For valid applications, submitted by one of the deadlines above, you should expect to hear from the F-REC about approval or edit requirements within 5 working days of the corresponding meeting that month.
F-REC does not meet in the summer months (July, August), so June is the last deadline for a review in an academic year.
This application template is supplied as a Google Document and is kept up to date by the F-REC Chair.
You can complete the application in Google Docs, or export it to Microsoft Word or another editor, but your completed application, including all relevant appendices, must be saved as a single PDF document for upload to the application submission portal below.
This short form is used to complete final checks and upload your completed application PDF for committee review.
The form requires you to be signed in with your DCU email address.
In some cases, aspects of your proposed research may change after having received approval, or your approval may have been granted with the expectation of a later amendment to supplement it with information that later becomes available (e.g. a more specific list of participant questions).
In such cases, you should use the link above to submit details of the amendment(s) and provide an up to date application. This should be submitted as a single PDF file, and should use highlighting of the text to indicate the area(s) amended.
Where proposed research is not approved by F-REC, you will be notified and supplied with directive feedback intended to assist you in meeting missing criteria and advancing to an approval.
In cases where you disagree with the outcomes of the F-REC review process, you are entitled to appeal a decision to the University REC.
When submitting an appeal to the University REC, it is necessary to also notify HSS F-REC, so that notes on your application and approval can be provided to them. Please email email@example.com to notify the committee of your intent to appeal. The committee will then prepare and provide all necessary documents to REC.